The reason why I am opening up this review with a good old technological lament is because The World Alive’s “Dark Matter” is a record for the modern man – and woman of course. It is polished, meteoric and capable of splitting apart atoms, and yet, although cool as gunmetal, it is also emotionally explosive, demonstrating that the soul is still crucial to any apparatus.
The first thing that comes to mind upon turning on “Dark Matter” is ‘energy’. I have no knowledge of quantum physics – any physics for that matter – but these must be the kind of reactions that take place inside the Large Hadron Collider. The band attacks every song as if humanity’s fate depends on it. “Trapped” is the first track that truly sets the tone for the record with its thick “djenty” riffs and atmospheric effects-drenched production. The machine-like stomp of the lead single then undergoes a rapid surge as tracks like “Face to Face”, “Sellout” and “Made This Way” which rocket the listener through a luminous tunnel of jet fuelled guitars and nuclear choruses. Following the blistering particle discharges of the aforementioned melodic acceleration “The Word Alive” take into the heart of the machine, exposing the thudding pistons, and grinding gears with gritty, oil stained hammering of “Grunge” and pulsar roar of “Dark Matter”.
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As previously implied, the production is definitely a standout factor here. The songs sound gargantuan in scope and the electronic elements add a creative textural property to every track. Alas, as is the case with a lot of bands that undertake such “layered” of a musical direction, it clearly suffers from overproduction, and although it sounds crisps and invigorating, the excessively digitised nature of the band’s sound ends up taking away from their character.
However, it is worth mentioning some individual performances from this collective. Drummer Luke Holland is simply a powerhouse. The drive that his rhythmic contribution provides truly raises the epic momentum of the songs and holds them together as they rattle under turbulence. The vocals of Tyler “Telle” Smith are also a highlight. Although his cleans appear to lack the physical properties required by the songs, when he unleashes his inner banshee and shreds the microphone with brutal, incendiary screams, you might think that Chester Bennington has a new side-project.
“Dark Matter” is a record that manages to find common ground between man and his devices. In addition to that, this band appears to have a mature substance to their sound and is truly committed to the songs, which is evident by the shrewd songwriting. They are at one with the mechanism, caged yet in control, wrapped in metal but beating from within; they are the ghosts inside the machine.
‘Dark Matter’ is out now on Fearless Records
This The Word Alive article was written by Anton Sanatov, a GIGsoup contributor